Hobart debates new lights & shared zone

Two new Hobart projects are good first steps in joining up the city’s bicycle network and are set to be voted on by the city council in coming weeks.

Traffic lights at the Molle and Collins streets intersection and a shared bike and access lane outside the new hospital building on Campbell Street were recently debated by the council’s Infrastructure Committee.  

Intersection needs safer crossing

The Molle and Collins streets intersection has long been the bane of people riding and walking along the Hobart Rivulet path.

Drivers come down the one-way Molle Street very fast which can panic people trying to walk or ride across to Collins Street or the car park driveway, which leads to the start of the Rivulet path. Complicating the intersection further is right turning traffic from Collins Street nearly missing cars and people exiting from the driveway to cross Molle Street.

Bicycle Network receives regular complaints about the intersection from people walking and riding who don’t feel safe crossing Molle Street because of the speed and volume of traffic.

The council’s committee debated a design put forward for the intersection which would see Molle Street narrowed by a wider footpath in the lead up to the crossing and pedestrian lights on the three legs of the intersection.

The design proposed just covers the intersection and doesn’t presuppose where a cycleway may run along Collins Street. Bicycle Network would like to see a separated cycleway down Collins Street that would effectively continue the Rivulet Path corridor through the city centre and join up with Campbell Street.

When questioned about the position of a Collins Street cycleway, City Planning Director Neil Noye said staff were working on potential infrastructure design options for bicycles travelling along Collins Street. 

Alderman Zucco succeeded in deferring the decision to press ahead with the design of the intersection until the committee received more information in response to questions about the design and numbers of people using the intersection.

The project will likely return to the next Infrastructure Committee meeting in September or an earlier special meeting so it can be heard at the 9 September council meeting. If it gets through council, a construction date in the 2020–21 financial year is planned.

Campbell Street shared zone

Another project that will go to the next full council meeting for decision is the 12-month trial of a shared zone bicycle and parking lane on Campbell Street outside the new hospital building.

Space on Campbell Street outside the hospital has been blocked off for three years while the new building went up. The construction company is due to pack up its operations before the end of this year, making the space available again.

An independent report has found that traffic on Campbell Street has not been affected by the reduced space available outside the hospital.

The proposal put to the committee, and agreed to by the hospital and state government, was that the space be used to create parking alongside the footpath and a “slow shared zone” access lane that would be used by bicycles and people parking, and separated from traffic by a row of bollards.

Campbell Street has a few blocks of painted bicycle lanes between Burnet and Brisbane streets and is marked on the state’s Principal Cycling Network maps as a route for bike riders.

The Tasmanian Bicycle Council has nominated Campbell Street for a separated cycleway to cater to the  university, TAFE and hospital and its ability to join the Intercity Cycleway with a separated cycleway along Collins Street. 

Best practice design would see a separated cycleway between the footpath and parked cars, with a raised pedestrian crossover and narrowed cycleway. We would have liked to have seen such a design in the 12 month trial, however, the current proposal doesn’t preclude a better cycleway design being implemented if the council decides to create a cycling corridor along Campbell Street.

The meeting discussed whether a bike lane should run down the western or eastern side of Campbell Street and what cycling infrastructure was intended for the street, in the context of the new Rose Garden Bridge set to open in October. Mr Noye said futher plans for cycling infrastructure along Campbell Street would be coming to the committee before the end of the year.

The committee approved the plan, with Aldermen Zucco and Behrakis against it, which means it will go to the next council meeting for a final decision.

Councillors and aldermen at the Infrastructure Committee meeting included Anna Reynolds, Marti Zucco, Simon Behrakis, Bill Harvey, Jeff Briscoe, Helen Burnet and Chair Tanya Denison.